A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age.

HOT PINK

THE LIFE AND FASHIONS OF ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

The life story of the trailblazing designer.

Having tackled Leonard Bernstein, Diego Rivera, and more, Rubin now turns to one of modernism’s most colorful fashion designers, Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), inventor of hot pink and a slew of fashion firsts. Known to intimates simply as “Schiap” (pronounced “skap” from “Skap-a-rell-ee,” helpfully elucidated early on), the younger daughter of traditional Italian parents was born in Rome, drawing early inspiration from her librarian father’s rare books. Rubin’s account highlights formative moments in Schiap’s rebellious youth but focuses mainly on the extraordinary accomplishments of her career. Schiap not only used fashion to compensate for internalized physical shortcomings, but extended her talents to help clothe women of all walks of life. Schiap believed that helping women “find their type” was “the secret of being well dressed.” Though some of her more outlandish designs included zany hats, buttons in the shapes of vegetables, and accessories sporting insects, Schiap was also revered for path-breaking casual knitwear alongside wild couture collaborations with Man Ray and Salvador Dalí. Unfortunately, while Rubin’s well-researched and eye-catchingly illustrated portrayal hooks readers with the history behind “shocking” or “hot” pink and includes copious quotations from Schiaparelli herself, its overall effect is surprisingly dry.

A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age. (author’s note, Schiaparelli facts, bibliography, notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1642-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Overall, though, these poems, illustrations and substantial notes combine well to lend a rounded portrait of this American...

THE EMILY SONNETS

A sonnet sequence encapsulates the biography of one of America’s most intriguing poets, Emily Dickinson.

Loosely following Shakespearean and the occasional Petrarchan rhyme schemes, Yolen cleverly adopts personae of important figures in Dickinson’s life—including the voice of the poet herself—to reveal key elements of her biography. Aiming to “tell the truth” of Dickinson’s life, Yolen effectively conveys the importance of family and nature, privacy, imagination and independence in Dickinson’s famously unconventional existence. Averse to traditional schooling and organized religion, the poet reveals: “I learned the spelling of the bee, / The mathematics of the rose / … / I found more in the books of air; / My higher education won / From every bird found flying there.” Yolen also offers a sympathetic portrait of Dickinson’s reclusiveness—“What need for me an open door / When in myself is so much more?”—and idiosyncratic dress: “sometimes a white dress is only that, / It keeps the daily choices few.” Accompanying the sonnets, Kelley’s dark and chunky pastels underscore Dickinson’s interior life. Occasionally, attempts to echo Dickinson’s poetic surprises yield muddled results, as in “Hedges,” where Yolen’s Dickinson depicts her shrubs as: “My soldiers, steady in a row, / Their helmets verdigrised by God, / Wearing epaulettes of crow.”

Overall, though, these poems, illustrations and substantial notes combine well to lend a rounded portrait of this American poet every young reader needs to discover. (Picture book/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56846-215-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely,...

SILVER PEOPLE

VOICES FROM THE PANAMA CANAL

A poetic exploration of the construction of the Panama Canal.

From the animal inhabitants of the Panamanian jungle, disturbed and displaced by the construction, and the trees felled to the human workers, Engle unites disparate voices into a cohesive narrative in poems chronicling the creation of the Panama Canal. Mateo, a 14-year-old Cuban lured by promises of wealth, journeys to Panama only to discover the recruiters’ lies and a life of harsh labor. However, through his relationships with Anita, an “herb girl,” Henry, a black Jamaican worker, and Augusto, a Puerto Rican geologist, Mateo is able to find a place in his new land. The Newbery Honoree and Pura Belpré winner’s verse is characteristically elegant, and her inclusion of nonhuman voices brings home the environmental impact of the monumental project. Given this breadth, Engle’s choice to center her story on a nonblack protagonist is saddening, as the majority of the workers on the Panama Canal were black islanders. Furthermore, while Mateo and Anita—and even many of the flora and fauna characters—are represented on the cover, Henry, a prominent character and the only black given a voice, does not make an appearance—a regrettable decision.

Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely, enlightening book. (author’s note, selected bibliography) (Historical fiction/verse. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10941-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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